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Трек 18_01

Chapter Eighteen

Joe and Biddy

So it was that, in the end, all my great expectations came to nothing....

I learned from Mr. Jaggers that Magwitch had left no will in my favour, and I had no claim to his fortune that would be recognized in law. I was, indeed, in a worse state than when I first came to London, for I was in debt—as I had been often in the past few years, but now there would be no more money to get me out of it.

It was at this dark time of my life that Herbert came home one evening and said:

“My dear Pip, I’m afraid that I shall have to leave you. I’m to go to the East on business for some months, at least. Then I shall return to marry Clara, and take her back with me. What will you do, Pip?”

“I don’t know,” I answered slowly. “I haven’t worked it out yet.”

He put a hand on my shoulder, his face troubled.

“Pip,” he said, “in our branch-house we shall need a—”

He hesitated, but I knew what he was going to say.

“A clerk?” I said.

“Yes. Will you come with me?”

I shook my head. There was a plan of sorts, a vague purpose in my mind, that made me refuse his offer.

“If you could leave the question open for a little while—” I began.

“For any while,” cried Herbert. “Six months, a year!”

“Not as long as that,” said I. “Two or three months at most.”

We shook hands on this arrangement. On the Saturday of that same week I said good-bye to Herbert. Then I went back to my lonely home—if it deserved that name, for it was now no home to me, and I had no home anywhere.

I began to be seriously alarmed at the state of my affairs, for my money was gone and my debts still remained to be paid. I knew, too, that I was falling very ill, and then there came a time when I knew very little else.

Трек 18_02

For a day or two I lay on the bed, or on the floor—anywhere that I happened to sink down—with a heavy head and aching limbs, with no purpose and no power. Then there came a night which seemed of great length, and which was filled with anxiety and horror; and when in the morning I tried to sit up in my bed and think, I found I could not do so.

Then I saw two men beside my bed, staring at me.

“What do you want?” I asked. “I don’t know you.”

“Well, sir,” returned one of them, “this is a matter that you’ll soon arrange, I dare say, but you’re arrested.”

“What is the debt?”

“Hundred and twenty-three pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence. Jeweller’s account. You’d better come now.”

I made some attempt to get up and dress myself. When I next attended to them they were standing a little off from the bed, just looking at me. I lay there still.

“You see my state,” I said. “I’d come with you if I could, but indeed I am quite unable. If you take me from here, I think I shall die by the way.”

Perhaps they replied, or argued; I don’t know what they did, except that they did not take me away. I knew nothing else of the real world for days and weeks, but lay in a fever and was haunted by strange dreams of murder and violence, of escape and capture, fire and drowning. Sometimes I seemed to struggle with real people, in the belief that they were murderers, and then I would realize that they meant to do me good, and allow them to lay my head back upon its pillow. And all these people, in some odd way, had a marked likeness to Joe.

After I had turned the worst point of my illness, I began to notice that whoever came about me still looked like Joe. I opened my eyes in the night, and there was Joe sitting in a chair at my bedside. I opened my eyes in the day, and, sitting on the window-seat, still I saw Joe.

At last, one day, I took courage and said: “Is it, Joe?”

And the dear old voice answered: “It is, Pip.”

“Joe, you break my heart. Look angry at me, Joe. Don’t be so good to me—after the way I’ve behaved.”

Joe said nothing, but put his arm round my neck, in his joy that I knew him.

“How long have I been ill?” I asked him.

“It’s the end of May, Pip. Tomorrow is the first of June.”

“And have you been here all the time?”

“Pretty near—ever since I had a letter from Mr. Wemmick telling me that you were ill.”

Then he said that I was not to talk too much until I was better, and I lay there in the first peace of mind I had known for many months.

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